Coding started as a hobby for 22-year-old Elliott Davidson and led him to chose to study web design and development at university. When he began his course, he also started using Treehouse as an additional learning resource. Elliott also needed to fit learning to code into his busy daily routine as a full-time athlete and soon found himself learning more effectively through flexible online courses and decided to drop out of university.
Elliott’s commitments as a full-time canoe slalom athlete have also given him opportunities to apply his coding skills. First to build a website to promote himself as an athlete and then to help fund his sports career through freelance work.
Today, Elliott is now successfully achieving both with a successful website and by generating income from his freelance work as a web designer and developer. There’s also the added bonus of coding now being a skill he can rely on in the future after his sports career.
We asked Elliott to share his inspiring and unique experience with us.
What first encouraged you to learn to code?
When I was in secondary school we had a supply teacher cover a lesson and he showed us how to use Dreamweaver. I was amazed at how I could build a website; it wasn’t until later did I learn that the code wasn’t great. This is what got me hooked and I wanted to learn more and code my own projects, so I set on a mission to code my first website.
What were you doing when you first joined Treehouse?
I was actually at university studying web design and development and I ironically needed to learn how to code. I found Treehouse to be more useful than my university when it came to learning the code. I later then dropped out of university as I learned better through watching video tutorials so I didn’t see the point in paying £9,000 per year when I could learn more from Treehouse for $25 per month.
How did you integrate learning to code into your everyday life?
As I don’t have a 9-5 job, I was able to watch tutorials in between training sessions. This way I was able on a daily basis to learn how to code. Instead of just sitting around and wasting my time I was utilizing my time to help me further down the road when my sports career ends. I wanted to make sure I had a skill to fall back on after my sporting career ended.
Instead of just sitting around and wasting my time I was utilizing my time to help me further down the road when my sports career ends. I wanted to make sure I had a skill to fall back on after my sporting career ended.
Tell us a little about how your career has evolved since learning to code.
Coding started out as a hobby and a skill I wanted to learn. I was then able to use those skills to build a website for myself as a canoe slalom athlete to help promote myself and attract sponsors. Since then I’ve used the skills I learned on Treehouse to help fund my kayaking career, which I have managed to do through offering web design services.
What have you found the greatest challenge while learning to code?
I would say the biggest obstacle I ran into was not having a mentor and I think that the Techdegree program does a good job of solving that issue. Sometimes I would stare at a line of code that wasn’t working for hours, so having some help to figure out why it wasn’t working would have been great. Sometimes these roadblocks would set me back a few weeks and would stop me coding as I didn’t know how to resolve the issue. I definitely feel a mentor would speed up your learning and I highly recommend having one.
What has the value of a Treehouse education meant to you?
Being an athlete all of my money has to be used for the sports equipment, coaching, travel, you name it. This leaves me very reliant on sponsors and the support of my family. Naturally, you don’t want to be reliant on other people which is why I was looking for a way to make money in and around my training. I also needed to be able to pick up and put it down so it couldn’t be a full-time job, which is when I came up with the idea of freelancing. Since then I’ve been using my web design services to bring in some extra income.
What advice would you share with students who are just starting to learn to code?
Stick at it! Just keep learning a little every day and you’ll soon be surprised at how much you know. If you can build learning to code into your daily routine even better as you’ll have a higher chance of success in a quicker time frame.
What are your plans for the future when it comes to using your coding skills?
We all have to dream but I know as an entrepreneur at heart I’ll put my skills to use at some point, it’s just a matter of when. I think I’d like to create either a tech startup or even a digital marketing agency. The agency is a natural progression from being a digital marketing consultant.